How to – Lunging Without a Round Pen

Round pen can make your life easier and the training process faster. However, you can still be lunging without a round pen. All you need is a lunging line or a long lead rope.

While lunging in an open space your horse has more opportunities to avoid doing what you are asking, so it will be more difficult to get him to listen to you in case he doesn’t want to listen.

However, you can definitely handle it without any significant issues if you take the right approach and don’t try to progress too quickly. Just take it one small step at a time.

First steps towards lunging without a round pen

The very first thing you should practice is getting your horse to back up in front of you.

Then practice getting him to follow you on a lose lead rope.

Your horse should be walking approximately 0.5 to 1m behind you without trying to walk in front of you. He should stop when you stop and should start walking when you start walking. He should be watching you at all times. If he starts walking next to you, or even in front of you, immediately back him up. Ideally within 2 seconds.

Lunging your horse for the first time

As soon as my horse can do the two things I have just mentioned I can move on and ask him to go around me on a small circle. Your horse should be walking on a circle approximately 2m away from you.

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It is important to keep your horse closer rather than further. The closer your horse is, the more likely he is to listen to you. When you keep your horse close, it is going to be easier for him to understand what you want and it is also going to be easier for you to correct him.

If you start by lunging him on a big circle when he is too far away from you, he is much more likely to avoid doing what you want and pick up bad habits.

When you lunge your horse for the first time on a small circle, practice getting him going in both directions.

If your horse has issues with going on a small circle, you can make the circle bigger by staying close to him and walking with him on a bigger circle. You should always be around 2 meters away from your horse.

Whether you stand still and get your horse to go on a small circle or whether you chose to do a bigger circle and walk around with your horse is up to you.

How to correct your horse?

Lunging without a round pen makes it a bit more difficult to correct your horse, but it is nothing to be afraid of.

If your horse tries to speed up to trot, just pull your lunge line, or your lead rope, to ask him to make the circle smaller.

Making the circle smaller makes it difficult for him to go faster.

As soon as your horse slows down, release the lead rope and let him get back on the bigger circle.

Asking for trot for the first time

When you are already able to get your horse to walk around you in both directions, try to ask him to speed up to trot.

After your horse trots nicely and can trot to both directions, you can start making the circle bigger. You can slowly and gradually let your horse get further away from you on a bigger circle.

What to do when your horse pulls on the rope?

I want my horse to trot on a circle and I want him to be on a loose lead rope, I do not want him to be trying to pull on it. Every time your horse pulls on the lead rope or the lunge line, correct him by pulling and then releasing the rope. Repeat that until your horse stops pulling on it and goes around on a lose rope.

What to do when he makes the circle smaller?

If my horse doesn’t pull on the rope but instead he makes the circle too small, I correct him using my whip or the end of my lead rope. I always swing my lead rope or a whip while correcting my horse in the area behind his front legs, approximately where the cinch strap would be if he had a saddle on.

Pay attention to where you are standing

It is also important to remember where you started with the lunging. You want to stay in the same spot the whole time.

Do not let your horse to slowly drift back towards the stable for example. Some horses are going to be making the circle smaller on one side and bigger on the other side to slowly move towards home.

Lunging without a round pen in canter for the first time!

Over time, as you progress, make the circle bigger and bigger. In the end, the circle should be around 16 meters in diameter.

Up until now, you are not very likely to have many issues.

Getting your horse to canter is going to be more difficult. Young horses especially are not likely to last very long when you ask them to canter for the first time. Canter is much more demanding than trot.

If your horse does just half a circle in canter the first time you ask for it, it is enough. Next time you ask for canter however, you should always ask him for a bit more.

Do not forget to correct your horse if he makes the circle smaller or tries to pull on the rope in canter. You should correct him the same way you did in trot.

As soon as your horse can already canter on both sides and do at least two to three full circles, the hardest part is over. You are now lunging without a round pen 🙂

If you want to learn more about ground work and getting respect claim my Free Training Series by clicking over here

How to – Lunging Without a Round Pen
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